When it comes to picking a favorite restaurant, barber, cardiologist, homebuilder, tattoo parlor, music teacher — or practically anything else, the public has spoken! The results of the 2021 Stars of Delaware readers’ poll were announced on Sept. 2 at Delaware State Fairgrounds.
Delaware State News hosted the Harrington celebration, where winners and finalists in nearly 200 categories enjoyed barbecue, fresh ice cream and live music, under the stars of a beautiful summer evening.
“Stars of Delaware recognizes the best of the best, and it is the most comprehensive readers’ poll in the state, so when you are a Star of Delaware, you are a real star. It is truly a five-star contest, consisting of 198 winners in 10 specific groups. All are nominated and chosen by readers,” said Darel La Prade, publisher. From food and shopping to professional services and the best spot for a sunset or a birthday party, “we have excellent suggestions for you.”
Geographically, the contest included all of Delaware, plus several categories for neighboring Kent County, Md.
“It’s awesome to be able to come out and celebrate you,” Dover Federal Credit Union’s Tyler Kuhn told the audience. “You were chosen on purpose. You do a ton to make our communities a better place. I’m proud to raise my daughter and live in Delaware.”
“I hope you are all honored tonight. I hope you get to have fun,” said Konrad La Prade, DSN vice president of sales and marketing.
“The Stars of Delaware is a poll of our readers, and it’s a chance for them to celebrate the things that they see that make this community great. A big part of what makes a community is the people. So, we include a Person of the Year award,” explained Heather Cregar, DSN director of marketing & promotions.
Jennifer Cohan of Dover received the Person of the Year honor. She is the CEO of Leadership Delaware (a nonprofit that educates adult professionals to be major leaders in the community), a professor of leadership at Wilmington University and former Secretary of Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT).
Cohan focused on “gratitude” in her acceptance speech. “Really, what’s important now is our community, and it’s more important now than it’s ever been, and there’s so much stuff happening, there’s so much angst in the world, it’s really important to be grateful for everything you have.”
Leandra Casson Marshall of Dover was a finalist for her community service (as a minister and also vice president of external relations at DEMCO — Delaware Multicultural and Civic Organization, Inc.) and scholarly pursuits (Delaware State University professor in areas of international relations, economies and more, and associate director for Center for Global Africa at DSU).
David Hugg of Smyrna was a finalist for his lifetime of civil service (state planner, Town of Smyrna town manager and current City of Dover director of planning, inspections and community development), which has included decades of encouraging downtown economic growth. He’s also taught University of Delaware courses and served as a senior policy advisor in the Institute of Public Administration.
“A common thread is they have all been educators in their unique fields, in addition to their volunteer leadership and commitment to our community. We are grateful for each and every one of you,” said Tonda Parks, DSN director of event marketing & community outreach.
The Harrington event took place in an open-air pavilion, which meant better air flow for attendees. Dina Perry of Bayhealth still took the opportunity to remind attendees to take precautions in their everyday lives to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as infection rates have increased lately in Delaware. “On behalf of the entire Bayhealth team, it’s truly an honor and a privilege to serve the community in Delaware. While these two years have been a challenge, and we’ve come so far, the reality is we’re once again seeing a surge in cases in our hospital system, our state and our country. So, we need to remain vigilant to ensure the safety of our loved ones and our communities all across Delaware.”
For a full list of winners and finalists, visit the Stars of Delaware 2021 publication.